This month marks four years since you elected me as your MP for Sevenoaks and Swanley. And, I have been grateful every day since.
Over the last twelve months I have received and replied to over 18,423 emails – which range from discussions about policy, to help with local issues.
It is an honour to serve as the MP for such a wonderful community, and by working together we have this year (to name just a few):
- Secured contactless ticketing for six local stations and additional services on the Maidstone East Fast Line
- Successfully opposed the Labour London Mayors proposal to scrap the one-day travel card to London
- Supported residents and councils in their objections to developments on our much-loved green spaces, including the Croudace Home Ltd appeal in Brittains Lane, and the planning application for Ashgrove Road
- Put a stop to local unauthorised developments – most notable Wheatsheaf Hill
- Secured funding to build a new Special Educational Need and Disabilities school in Swanley
- Supported Darent Valley Hospital when they were awarded £2.5million to create additional beds across three wards.
But, there is of course more to be done and I look forward to ensuring our community continues to get the investment, recognition and opportunities it deserves.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2023. My team and I will be working throughout the festive period, so if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Below is a snapshot of what we have been working on. If there is anything, I can do to support you, please get in touch.
- A huge congratulations to Emily King (Year 5, Crockenhill Primary School) on becoming this year’s Christmas Card Competition winner! I presented Emily’s design to the Prime Minister, and it has now been printed on the front of all my Christmas cards, alongside the four fantastic runners up; Prakruti Halgeri (Year 4, Amherst School), Francesca Board (Year 6, Hextable Primary School), Johnny White (Reception, Lady Boswell's Primary School) and Theodore Felstein (Year 2, Shoreham Village School). A huge thank you to all the children who entered, as well as the local teachers and parents who helped the designs reach me in Westminster. I hope it helped get many of you into the festive spirit.
- Regular readers of my newsletter will know tackling violence against women is something I have campaigned on since being elected. I am therefore very pleased that Sevenoaks District Council has now launched a consultation to look at how safe women and girls feel in public spaces across the Sevenoaks District. This is such an important topic so please do take the time to submit your views and share it with your friends, family and community groups. The consultation will be running over Christmas and will close on 7th January 2024.
- I am delighted that from this month the fast line through Otford and Swanley will now have an additional rush hour train - meaning a half-hourly service during the 2-hour morning rush hour period. I know that recently there have been problems with short trains and having raised this with Southeastern I was reassured that from the December timetable change - that came in last week, additional rolling stock should be available to cover problems. Do let me know if you however continue to experience further problems. As you know, I am determined that this half-hourly service is replicated in the evening rush hour from London – and will continue to campaign to ensure this happens as soon as possible.
- It was an absolute pleasure to this month host four wonderful students from Milestone Academy in Parliament for work experience. They had many excellent questions in the Q&A, ranging from my new role to local issues including banking in Swanley and protecting the Green Belt. A huge thanks to the pupils and staff –you're a credit to Milestone Academy and our community.
- I was incredibly angry – as were many of you - to learn (without any advanced warning) that a new pricing structure has coming into effect for those travelling between 9.05am and 9.27am from Sevenoaks and the surrounding villages to London – and/or returning from London Zones between 4pm and 7pm. Whilst these changes do not affect those travelling off-peak outside those times, nor those who purchase travelcards, such a sharp increase in fares simply acts as a deterrent to using the rail network – and punishes those who much travel for work or to see friends and family. I have raised this with both SouthEastern and the Department for Transport and am seeking an urgent solution and will keep you all updated.
- At the start of the month, I celebrated Small Business Saturday – an excellent opportunity to celebrate and support our wonderful local small businesses. One such business is The Cotton Mill micro pub in Swanley, and it was fantastic to visit them and meet with owners Dave and Sacha. Since my last visit they have now extended the pub and it was great to hear about their exciting plans, which include a kitchen. Dave and Sacha have created something so special with the Cotton Mill. Its décor is superb and its role in bringing the community together, as well as supporting the community, cannot be underestimated. Small businesses like these are the lifeblood of our towns and villages.
- In the summer I wrote in support for Sevenoaks District Council to implement a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for The Vine - and in the consultation residents were also supportive of the measure. I am pleased that at the recent Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet Meeting, the implementation of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was approved to deal with ASB at The Vine surrounding grass areas for a period of up to 3 years, with effect from 5 February 2024.
- The Cabinet also agreed to commence a consultation for a PSPO around the M25 Spur Road, Hewitts Roundabout, A21 area in relation to dangerous and noisy car meets that have taken place. I was pleased to have written in support of this proposal. Whilst I am pleased that the number of car meets have reduced since the summer (which is due in no small part to a number of local residents and Halstead Parish Council who have been brilliant in highlighting these issues, as well as great work by Kent Police and Sevenoaks District Council) we must keep the pressure up. I will keep you all updated.
- And finally, I was delighted to see many of our excellent local projects were awarded funding by the Sevenoaks District Council Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Spending Board. This included Sevenoaks FC for their new Club House and Community Building at Greatness Park, Kent Wildlife Trust for their Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve redevelopment project, Swanley Town Council for improvements for the Swanley Park toilets, West Kingsdown Village Hall Management Committee for improvements to the car park and Crockenhill Parish Council for improved play facilities at Harvestfield Park. Huge congratulations to all those involved.